Senate Democrats remained steadfast in their resolve to make taxes more equitable between the rich and the poor.
By a vote of 51-48, the U.S. Senate passed a plan yesterday to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals who earn $200,000.00 or less and for couples with joint incomes of $250,000.00 or less. By a vote of 45-54, the Senate rejected a Republican plan to extend the Bush tax cuts to all taxpayers.
The Senate bill also included the extension of 2009 stimulus package tax credits to aid the working poor and middle class families that were hit hardest by the 2008 financial crisis, the worst in this country’s history since the Great Depression.
By keeping these stimulus tax credits in place, the Senate ensured that working families with annual incomes as low as $3,000, remain eligible for several tax credits that give them some much needed financial breathing room.
Unfortunately, the equitable tax plan passed by the Senate will most likely die in the Republican-controlled House next week. The House Republicans’ plan is a largely unaltered version of the rejected Senate Republicans’ bill, which would raise taxes on middle class and working families, while providing a huge tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
None of this really matters, however, if we can’t talk about what we are trying to accomplish as a community of human beings with needs and aspirations.
I am a reasonable man. I pride myself on being reasonable. I would much rather have the difficult conversations than default to conflict and bickering. I believe that we are looking at the tax issues all wrong.
Reasonable Americans don’t want to wage "class warfare" on the rich. The tax debate needs to shift from throwing jabs across the aisle to a genuine discussion of what we are trying accomplish.
In these very trying economic times, we want all Americans to be on sure financial footing while ensuring a stable economic climate for businesses. The reality is, when the economy is stable, all Americans prosper. But we cannot increase the burden on the middle class in times of great economic hardship. The goal is not to punish the more fortunate among us, but rather to appeal to the American spirit of generosity and kinship that made us the most prosperous country in the world.
We must make a small sacrifice now so that our neighbors and our friends can prosper with us. Together we can weather the storm, but only if we agree to help each other.
This isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats or rich against poor. It is about embracing what makes America so great. No man understood trying economic times better than Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt once said that, "Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off."
Competition is good and healthy for democracy, but as Americans it is our vested and sacred responsibility to care for one another in times of need. We have seen the power and beauty of cooperation throughout our history.
Today is the time to remember this, to embrace this, and to act on this. We must explore a variety of solutions, but we cannot continue to place an increased burden on the middle class or the working poor.